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County approves conceptual plan for Reservoir River Ranch
Monday, November 22, 2010

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved the conceptual plan for Reservoir River Ranch Tuesday — a 1,207 unit, planned unit development slated for a 516-acre parcel just south of Reservoir Hill and bordered by U.S. 84, the San Juan River and Light Plant Road.

The unanimous approval came with little commissioner discussion or questions, and paves the way for the developer — Stanley Levine representing the Fairway Land Trust — to bring his plans to the county planning commission for sketch plan review.

That session should occur in the coming weeks.

According to Archuleta County Planner Cindy Schultz, the project will include residential and multi-use/commercial components with some of the highest densities and key commercial components proposed for a strip along the San Juan River.

Although the commissioners reviewed and approved the plan in concept, Levine said he does not intend to develop immediately and the property would remain largely agricultural for the foreseeable future. In addition, the commissioners’ concept plan approval provides no guarantee the project will obtain final approval as it works through the county planning process.

“It’s not a short-term thing; it’s a long-term thing. We look at it as a 25-year plan. We’re certainly not going to develop anything now in this economy,” said Levine.

That said, Levine will likely ask the county for vested property rights, the details of which will be hammered out during negotiations on the developer agreement.

Developer agreements are contracts negotiated between the county or municipality and the developer in order to ensure the both parties and the public’s interests are protected. They commonly govern the details of planned unit developments.

Archuleta County Attorney Todd Starr said the developer had submitted a draft agreement for his review in May.

Levine originally proposed annexing the property to the town and developing under its land use code in September 2008, but ultimately those discussions faltered and Levine withdrew the request in March 2009.

In correspondence to the town, Levine cited a number of reasons for rescinding his proposal, among them: issues regarding the maintenance of Light Plant Road, the town’s alleged push for an “aggressive and mandated” development schedule and difficulty with town land use codes regarding planning processes for master planned communities.

The conceptual plan put before the Board of County Commissioners remains largely unchanged from the plan put before the town.

james@pagosasun.com